Date: 11 February 2019, Blog >>
By: Kim Meredith (Chief Executive Officer of The Dealmaker Company)
Communication – Vital in Dealmaking
To my mind, there are two forms of communication, verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication concerns words and includes speech, sign language and writing. Non-verbal communication is expressed wordlessly through body language, gestures, posture, facial expressions and eye contact.
Without the ability to communicate effectively – in whatever form – a dealmaker loses a lot of power. In today’s blog, we’ll look at verbal communication.
Verbal communication works on two levels – what we say consciously and what we say unconsciously.
Conscious Verbal Communication
Negotiators need to consider what they say and how best to say it. In dealmaking, using precise wording is important. An incorrect word could be the death of your deal and success does lie in semantics.
Think before you speak (and before you write) and pay careful attention to what the other person is saying. Consciously plan your words, as carefully chosen words will help to increase the control you have in a deal, particularly when you’re selling or negotiating.
“Nothing can be so clearly and carefully expressed that it cannot be utterly misinterpreted” – Fred W Householder (American linguistics and classical studies professor, 1913 – 1994).
What you say and what the other party hears might not be the same thing, so in addition to choosing your words diligently, ensure that the other person understands exactly what you mean. You can do this by asking questions, listening to the answers, summarising and confirming.
Unconscious Verbal Communication
During verbal communication, clues, cues or signals are dropped into the conversation. No matter how well a person has prepared, they are unlikely to be able to eradicate all of their unconscious communication. The trick is not to stop yourself from giving clues, but rather to start spotting the ones being dropped by the other party.
Here’s an example: You are talking to someone on the phone about a holiday apartment they have to rent out. You ask them for the daily rate. They say something like, “I want in the region of $80 per day”, or “It depends on the season, but the average is about $80 per day”. Both these statements contain clues, albeit subtle ones. “In the region of” = negotiable. “Average is about” = negotiable. Why, then, do we write down $80 and omit the all-important signals of flexibility?
Clues can range from blatantly obvious to obscure. They are woven into communication like the subtitles of a foreign movie.
To recognise clues, you need to increase your awareness and focus on what the other person is saying. Listening for the clues will help you to understand what is important to the other party, and where they are likely to be flexible in a deal.